Well my son was called into action to play his first exhibition game. That was the exciting news. But, the reality sank in and I felt a little uneasy. I wasn’t certain where my feelings were coming from.
A little side bar – I was initially going to title this section of my blog A year in the Life of a goalie parent, but that would just perpetuate the lack of disconnect between parent’s of players and goalies. Somehow we know the intrinsic role of the goalies position on a team, but fail to see the similar responsibilities of the other players. Therefore, a Year in the Life of a Hockey Parent became the title.
Then I felt a knot in my guts I wouldn’t be able to bring him. I was uncertain if I was nervous for him as a goalie or a son. You see, there is a fine line distinguishes the two. I was also uncertain of the role I play in his successes. For the past four years I have been on the bench and have been the goalie coach for my son. In his big debut I will not be there for his comfort – or maybe it’s mine – or will I be there to witness his new beginning with his new team.
After all someone has to pay for all that goalie equipment.
My dad took my son to his first game. How fitting that my dad plays another supportive role in the life of another ‘hockey want to be’. My wife was busy taking my daughter to her last soccer game, so without hesitation my dad stepped up to help.
It was a fairly early game on the first day back to school. My son gets home at four o’clock and the game was at 5:15 in Georgetown approximately 45 minutes away.
I generally have little concern of the time when I work in the clinic treating people. I rotate from person to person and am program by their appointments. Towards the end of the day the practice is busy and the last two hours of my work day just evaporates. But, this day it was different. Between patients I found myself checking my watch. ‘Ten minutes before game time, I hope he is controlling his nerves’. I thought to myself. I checked again it must be warm up – I pictured him taking one off the noodle in warm up and wondered if it would sharpen his senses or lend itself to the uncertainties of being a goalie just prior to a game.
More patients came and went. With a little break between patients I went to sit in my office. I calculated that the game must be half done. I hope all is well. I realized then that I don’t play the game anymore, he does. With no way of being close to him to show my support I realized it would be indifferent if I were in the stands.
“Rod your next patient,” my staff snapped me to attention.
I finished the day with all my focus and attention on my patients – thought I should write that in somewhere. In my commute home I started again with the same thoughts. The funny thing is not the obvious. It’s not the constant flow of nerves and stress that goes through your head as a parent that just wants their child to succeed and do well. But, rather the fact that I used the phrase on my commute home – for those of you that do not know me personally I live 1 km from home, it is true that even in that short time my mind went over to the ‘dark side’ again. I tried to use the force not to worry, but soon realized it was too late as I walked into the house.
My dad was there to greet me, so I immediately asked “how did he do dad?” My dad said “you better ask him.”
That can’t be good I thought to myself. I went into the kitchen and he was eating – again.
“How did you do, Fraser”, I said.
“You mean the team dad?” he reminded me, “we did great we won.”
Once again I learned a valuable lesson from my kid. More significantly what was I thinking – isolating his performance before the teams – I am my son’s goalie coach, of all people I should know the difference. I am the one that is responsible for reminding young goalies their importance of being an integral player on the team.
“So what was the score?” I said.
“3 – 0, I got a shutout” he said, as he shovelled in another fork full of pasta.
That was it. All the build up of my uncertainties, the constant head chatter and the illusion that somehow he can’t perform with me around was unwarranted. I have to remind myself that the feelings inside of me are not necessarily the same feelings my son has. Similarly, the game he plays is different then the game I play as a parent.